ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – The 2020 census is well underway but results aren’t coming in like officials hoped. We spoke with Tracee Bentley, the CEO and President of the Permian Strategic Partnership who spearheads The Permian Counts campaign, about the importance of being counted for this particular census.
“Well, earlier this year, the Permian Strategic Partnership commissioned a study by the Perryman Group so we could better understand the fiscal significance of an accurate census count to the Permian Basin and what we found was if even 2 percent or 1 in 50 residents in the Permian were not to complete this census, over the next ten years this under-count would result in the regional loss of 1.1 billion dollars in gross product, about 13 thousand jobs, and the loss of 52 million dollars in federal funding for our local government entities. And so for reference, the census bureau showed that as of May 14, the census self-response rate for Lea and Eddy counties in South-East New Mexico come in at about 43.8 percent and 47 percent respectively. Midland County is at 49.5 percent and Ector County is reporting at 44.4 percent. So, we definitely have to work at getting these numbers up. We wanna get as close to 100 percent response rate as we can and there’s still plenty of time because the census bureau has extended the deadline to respond to the census through October so every resident of the Permian Basin, if they haven’t already needs to make sure they get online and get counted, it only takes about ten minutes.”
This census will set the tone for funding and representation in the permian basin for the next decade. Getting an accurate count will position the region for growth, and development, but if too many people aren’t counted, the basin could risk losing funding for things like education, healthcare, infrastructure, and housing. This year, because of the pandemic, there is even an online option to be counted.
“Now, for the first time ever, you can go online and do it and so 2020census.gov. You click on and then in the mail you should have received your personal id number, you put that number in and it just asks you a couple questions about your residency. What’s I think is really important for viewers to know is that you should fill out the census and call your place of home where you spend 51 percent of your time. And so that’s very important for places like the Permian Basin where we tend to have a transient workforce but if you spend more than 51 percent of your time in the Permian Basin, that is where you should fill out your residency.”
This census makes a big impact on the companies that decide to set up shop here. New retail stores and restaurants look at census data to decide where their next location should be.
“For the Permian to expand, economic development-wise and if we want to get to see new stores, chain stores, and other things out here then it’s very important to get a good census count because those retailers will get numbers to decide and demographics to decide where they’re gonna open up new business.”
If you’d like more information about the economic impact of the 2020 census, click here.